“There’s a real buzz around Mississauga with talk about innovation,” said Shawn Slack, director of information technology and chief information officer for the City of Mississauga. “ICUBE has captured the essence of that.” Also in attendance was Bryan Stewart, vice-principal of research at UTM, who spoke about the synergy happening across the science and technology disciplines. “With our science programs, we’re trying to educate the next generation of students who will want to make a difference and improve the lives of someone somewhere around the world,” he said.

Stewart then introduced UTM chemistry professor, Scott Prosser, onto the stage to talk about the role of basic science in discovery and its role in founding innovation.

“I think the two are very important bedfellows,” he said, adding: “I think the stuff that you guys are inventing in ICUBE – that culture of entrepreneurism – is something that I was not acquainted with when I was a graduate student. Through my interactions with Biotech students there’s a new sort of spirit of entrepreneurism.”

Prosser was recently awarded a major grant from Canadian Institutes for Health Research to continue his research on the structure and function of membrane receptors.

“Many of the professional programs at IMI give you the tools, if you have the entrepreneurial spirit to apply it,” he said. “That’s changing the way students think about their science and I think it’s fantastic.”

Wendi Zhou, a fourth-year PhD student in electrical and computer engineering was also invited onto the stage to present her three-minute thesis entitled, “Nanobiosensors: A baby Monitor for Stem Cells.” She had tied for second place at the U of T Three Minute Thesis Competition Finals that took place last month.

“I’d like to go into industry and start developing devices,” she told Dumcum. “I’ve been developing the research behind the basic science but I’d like to go into actually commercializing and be able to send devices up through the market.”

Next presenter on the stage was Diana Kraskouskaya, research associate for the Gunning Group and CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics Inc., a Mississauga-based startup that focuses on the development of novel small molecules for a range of therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

“We’re working primarily in three fields in the lab: the development of new therapeutics for aggressive types of cancer, the diagnostics of Alzheimer’s, and the diagnostics of bacterial infections,” said Kraskouskaya. “We achieve all of that using small molecule synthetic chemistry.”

To date, and with the support of several organizations including ICUBE, Dalriada Therapeutics Inc. has raised over $200,000.

“Our goal, by the end of this year, is to raise our series A round of 1.5 to 2 million dollars.”